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An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity and stimulation of which normally results in sexual response. Depending on the individual, this could include any and all areas of the body, but the majority of men and women have common erogenous zones. Although areas of the skin are most common, the penis in men and the clitoris in women are both erogenous zones, for example.
There are two main classes of erogenous zone in the skin, which are accepted
The skin is similar to normal haired skin and has the normal density of nerves and hair follicles. These areas include the sides and back of the neck, the axillae (armpit) and sides of the thorax. An exaggerated tickle and anticipatory response are responsible for the heightened sensual response.
These areas produce stronger sensation and include the genitals, including prepuce, penis, clitoris, external vulva and perianal skin, scrotum, lips, nipple and conjunctiva. The rete ridges of the epithelium are well formed and more of the nerves are close to the external surface of the skin than in normal haired skin.
The prepuce, which carries the ridged band and lower frenular delta, has mucocutaneous end-organs extending from the distal margin to the point where hairy skin starts. The thin dermis and minimal subcutaneous tissue results in closely set nerve networks. Vater-Pacini corpuscles are present. The mucocutaneous end-organs are formed after birth, with few in newborn infants and many well-organized endings in adults. Winkelmann suggests that the prepuce is a "specific erogenous zone."
The clitoris has the most dense nerve supply of any part of the skin, with many mucocutaneous end-organs and closely set nerve networks. The Vater-Pacini corpuscle is at the base of the clitoris and the organized mucocutaneous ending is present on the entire inner surface of the labia, with greater concentration toward the clitoris. No sign of specific nerve endings has been found in deep vaginal mucosa and no intraepithial endings are present.
The glans penis has mucocutaneous end-organs over the entire surface, particularly around the coronal sulcus. Normal Vater-Pacini corpuscles are in the subcutaneous tissue of the glans. A sample of a hermaphrodite phallus had a greater density of nerve tissue than a normal glans penis and abnormal Vater-Pacini corpuscles with an enlarged inner bulb and unusually convoluted and divided nerve expansion.
Moving from the hairy skin to the glabrous skin around the anus the nerve networks rise higher in the skin and the mucocutaneous end-organ becomes apparent at the vermillion border, occurring frequently in this transition zone. The Vater-Pacini corpuscle is deep in the subcutaneous tissues, and into the anal canal.
In the lips there are rudimentary mucocutaneous end-organs in the superficial part of the skin. The nerve networks are close to the epithelium of the vermillion border of the lip and decrease in density toward the outer part. Toward the oral cavity the dermis becomes thinner and the number of organized nerve endings diminishes. Vater-Pacini corpuscles and the tactile disk are not present.
The oral cavity contains Ruffini and meissner corpusles and varicose expansions of nerves in the mucosa of the tongue.
The conjunctival nerves mostly end in free arborizations. Kissing a lover's eyes is a common activity in the West. Some cultures believe that a sexual partner can be brought to climax simply through prolonged eye contact known as Soul gazing
The areola and nipple contain Golgi-Mazzoni, Vater-Pacini and genital corpuscles. No Meissner's corpuscles and few organized nerve endings are present. There are concentrations of nerve tissue in the area of ducts and masses of smooth muscle. The hair surrounding the areola adds additional sensory tissue. The mass of smooth muscle and glandular-duct tissue in the nipple and areola block the development of normal dermal nerve networks which are present in other erogenous regions and the development of special end organs.
The fingertips have many nerves and are responsive to very light touches, like the brushing of a tongue or light fingernail or teeth stroking. The sides are somewhat less sensitive and more ticklish. Both light and firmer touches work well at the junction of the fingers.
Many people enjoy the sensation of having their feet and toes sucked on or licked. For many people, however this can be a very sensitive and ticklish area.
Many people enjoy having their ears lightly sucked or bitten. It produces an arousing sensation throughout the body and is quite pleasurable. Also, driving the tongue straight into the ear canal is a fairly safe form of penetration, provided that both partners are healthy and not especially subject to otitis.
The neck and clavicle area is a very sensitive region. Licking, kissing, and caressing here are very arousing to many people. The neck area is very prone to broken blood vessels, and too rough of kissing or biting here can leave bruises known as love bites, commonly referred to as hickies. Additionally the back of the neck is very sensitive to arousal by lightly caressing.
Someone once called a scalp massage "foreplay for the head," and it seems to be true. A scalp massage is a way to relax someone, or arouse them.
The Vulva provides the most erogenous zones on the female body.
The clitoris is located above the urethra and vaginal canal. It is not always noticeable.
The penis is the most erogenous zone in the male body. In particular, the natural glans and frenulum are highly sensitive and may elicit strong sensations from the slightest touch or movement. The ridged band is also a fairly sensitive part of the penis as well.
The skin of the scrotum is very sensitive to light touching and stroking, causing a pleasurable sensation; the scrotum may also be quite ticklish. Although a bit painful, squeezing of the testicles can sometimes cause a very pleasurable sensation, particularly during ejaculation, but should be done cautiously.
Males can also be aroused by light stroking and touching of the perineum (the area between the scrotum and the anus). Applying a firm pressure on it just before ejaculation can heighten the intensity of orgasm.
- Erogenous Zones: Their Nerve Supply and Significance, Winkelmann RK, Mayo Clin Proc 1959;34(2):39-47
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